NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 7, 2005

Hospitals are enlisting the help of in-room cameras to monitor patients for potential problems in intensive care units, resulting in lives saved, according to the Washington Post.

Kaleida Health System has invested in the use of cameras in its hospitals, enabling physicians in remote locations to keep an eye on patients; the cameras are connected to screens that allow health professionals to monitor vital signs, heart rate, blood pressure and other information, and to notify hospital staff if problems occur.

In light of the current shortage of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) physicians, the cameras are designed to enhance patient care:

  • Five million patients are admitted to ICU each year, yet there are fewer than 6,000 ICU specialists in the United States.
  • Sentara Healthcare now uses cameras to monitor 95 of its beds in five hospitals in Virginia and North Carolina.
  • In 2003, the technology saved 97 lives, covering only 65 beds.

In traditional settings, hospitals have to rely on nurses to notice a problem, page a doctor and wait for the physician to check on the patient. Now doctors can immediately check equipment in the room, such as ventilators and intravenous medication, while talking to the patient and staff members in the hospital.

Source: Carolyn Thompson, "'ECIU' Lets Doctors Monitor Many Patients," Washington Post, January 4, 2005.


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